How to cope with people with borderline personality

Written by catherine scruggs, m.a.
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How to cope with people with borderline personality
A person with borderline personality disorder unwittingly alienates himself. (Agri Press/Lifesize/Getty Images)

A person with borderline personality disorder can act in ways that make it difficult for people to be around. This individual may triangulate, creating opposition between two people. One with borderline personality disorder may manipulate a person by playing with his emotions or pulling him into her problems. These behaviours alienate the person with borderline personality disorder, which is exactly what she fears the most. Setting clear boundaries and behaving consistently are effective and healthy ways to cope with a person with borderline personality disorder.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

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Things you need

  • To cope with a person with borderline personality disorder, you will need the following:
  • Specific amount of time designated for talking to and being with the person with borderline personality disorder
  • Specific amount of time designated for yourself

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Instructions

    Coping with a Borderline Personality

  1. 1

    Establish limits of time spent talking to and being with the person and consistently abide by these. The person with borderline personality disorder will hang on to you and want to have your undivided attention for long periods of time. Healthy boundaries concerning this issue must be established in a clear manner. Make specific standards, or guidelines, known and repeatedly implement them. You may feel uncomfortable at first, but it will soon be clear why such limits need to be defined.

    How to cope with people with borderline personality
    Establish time limits for talking with the person. (Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)
  2. 2

    Steer away from emotions, consistently keeping things light. Heavy emotional content reminds the person with borderline personality disorder of times when she was hurt and felt extremely betrayed and sad. She can easily become enraged, and she may want to lash out with hurtful words or allegations. Keeping her away from thinking and talking about such things will help her behave in a more healthy manner and make her less prone to anger and depression. Each time the conversation seems to be going in the direction of emotions and feelings, redirect your talk to lighter, more positive subjects.

    How to cope with people with borderline personality
    Keep the conversations light and steer away from emotional content. (Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)
  3. 3

    Establish clear consequences of suicidal threats and consistently implement them. Let the person with borderline personality disorder know every time she threatens suicide, you will not listen to her, help her, or save her. The only thing you will do is call the police and notify them of the situation. The person will eventually understand the consequences; she will know that each time she threatens suicide, the police will come to take her to a psychiatric treatment facility.

    How to cope with people with borderline personality
    Let the person know you will notify the police if suicide is threatened. (Siri Stafford/Lifesize/Getty Images)
  4. 4

    Keep the person oriented to the present, the here and now. If the person with borderline personality disorder begins to brood on the past, brings up issues with high negative emotionality or starts to worry and fret about possible future problems and obstacles, repeatedly redirect her. Turn the conversation around to the present situation. Do not comment on or engage the person by listening to talks about the past or future. Begin talking about the current setting and lead her to think and talk about the present.

    How to cope with people with borderline personality
    Keep the person in the present and not brood on the past. (Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)
  5. 5

    Refuse to participate in gossip and do not listen to it. Be consistent with this every time the person with borderline personality disorder might try to engage you in such talks. Participating, even if it is just listening, only provides more ways for the person to cause strife between people, manipulate people's emotions and create more troubles for her and everyone involved.

    How to cope with people with borderline personality
    Consistenly refuse to participate in gossip. (Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)
  6. 6

    Have empathy for the person and try to understand the person cannot help acting this way. The person with borderline personality disorder does have a mental disorder that causes her to act the way she does. Although the person should try to learn how to behave in a more healthy manner and take some responsibility, she really cannot help the way she is. It is a deeply ingrained part of her personality and it is hard to change.

    How to cope with people with borderline personality
    Have empathy for the person, as she cannot help herself. (Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)
  7. 7

    Take time out for yourself. Enjoy being without the person; relax and unwind. You deserve a time designated for you to take care of yourself. Plan to do something that is particularly soothing, such as taking a long, warm bath, or writing in a journal. Doing this will make you better equipped to take on the next challenge.

    How to cope with people with borderline personality
    Take time to be alone and care for yourself. (Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Tips and warnings

  • One way to make a person with borderline personality disorder feel good is to include her in your plans when you can.
  • A person with borderline personality disorder may be easily hurt. Try not to hurt the person's feelings.

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